On Sept. 26, 2014, 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa travelled to Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico to protest for education reform at a conference held by the mayor’s wife. On their way to the conference their bus was intercepted by local police by orders of the mayor, and the students went missing, were tortured and killed.
Janett Pulido, a third year student in the MFA Studio Art program, created #YaMeCansé, an exhibit currently on display in the USF Oliver Gallery named after the social media movement, in response to the occurrence in Iguala.
“This is a normal situation, people who protest and just suddenly disappear,” Pulido said. “To them it just happens, but this particular situation is what broke the camel’s back.”
In her time at USF, Pulido experimented with incorporating elements of her Mesoamerican and Roman Catholic rituals into her art, creating unique works of art that serve to tell a story.
As a result of her frustrations with regard to the issues in Iguala, Pulido created 43 mixed-media sculptures to represent each student, each accompanied by a quote from the media regarding the issue.
“I wanted to create some form of individuality just to give an idea of what I assume are the personalities of each student,” she said.
Each sculpture consists of a piece of rock or brick, representing the burial of the students as several bone fragments have been found in mass graves, as well as paint enamel to represent the issue. The sculptures are placed on sheets of Plexiglas and nested in charcoal, representing gun powder.
“The charcoal is also a representation of gun powder because that’s a reflection of what’s been happening not just in this particular situation but also prior to that because this has been happening for years,” Pulido said.
A first generation Mexican-American, Pulido travelled to Mexico annually to visit family, recalling instances of her family getting pulled over by local police and being forced to pay just to be let go.
Drawing from her culture and personal experiences with police injustices, Pulido was inspired to raise awareness of not only this issue but issues that have led up to it.
“We are so raised up on fear, that something may happen to our family members, because it has happened in the past to shut people up and there are a lot of Mexicans that are afraid to stand up and protest these situations, but now we’ve all become fed up,” she said. “People are actually standing up and protesting.”
The investigation of the missing students continues as more bodies are found and identified to be students of the group. The final piece in the exhibit is the only piece in which the paint enamel is flowing from the Plexiglas stand, representative not only of this issue, but all issues of police injustice that continue to go unsolved.
“They were just protesting education reform, and then they end up decapitated,” Pulido said. “You rely on the police to help you out and they’re the ones who are igniting that.”
The reception for #YaMeCansé will be held on Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in FAH 102.